ETMC to dedicate Ellis Trauma Center - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

ETMC to dedicate Ellis Trauma Center

On Tuesday, December 13, East Texas Medical Center Tyler will celebrate visionary leadership as its emergency center is named the Elmer G. Ellis Trauma Center as part of a $1 million donation by the Robert M. Rogers Foundation. 

In 2005, ETMC Tyler embarked on an $8 million expansion and refurbishment of its emergency department, beginning with a major addition of 12 exam rooms and support areas located on the west side of the emergency drive.  Over the past four years, additional phases of the project have added:

  • A new three-bed trauma suite, with state-of-the-art design to accommodate the ever increasing number of trauma cases at ETMC Tyler.  Approximately 20 percent of the hospital's emergency patients are trauma victims from motor vehicle accidents, falls, blunt force injuries, gunshot wounds and other injuries affecting multiple organs.
  • New trauma imaging equipment, allowing patients to remain in the trauma rooms for digital x-rays, which can be read in five seconds by trauma physicians.
  • Two cardiac observation rooms and three nurses' stations.
  • Renovation and refurbishment of the existing emergency/trauma facility, reflecting a patient and family-centered focus.  This includes the main waiting area, a family room, a new three-room patient triage system and other clinical areas.

The Rogers Foundation elected to support this vital capital project through a $1 million pledge that was completed earlier this year.  As part of its commitment, the foundation asked that the trauma center be named for Elmer G. Ellis, president/CEO of the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System at the project's completion.

"Nothing better reflects ETMC's mission of care for East Texans – and the dedication of Elmer Ellis – than its trauma program," said Wade C. Ridley, board chairman for the ETMC Foundation.  "We are grateful to the Rogers Foundation for its outstanding support of the trauma center project, which will ultimately save countless lives."

He added that a new recognition area in the main emergency waiting room of the hospital honors all donors to the trauma program – including The Rogers Foundation and an additional $1 million gift from the ETMC Tyler Volunteers.  Other generous donors acknowledged on the glass plate wall include:  Mary John Spence; The Vaughn Foundation; Junior League of Tyler, Inc.; Dr. Harold and Nancy Payne Willingham; Lift Logan Up/C.C. Creations/Twinz Co.;  Jane and Mike Coker; Kitty Clyde and Lanny Ramsay; Hospitality House; Sarah G. Davis; and Metro Aviation, Inc. 

A bronze plaque honoring Mr. Ellis, located with the donor recognition wall, reads:

"Through a landmark gift to this facility, The Robert M. Rogers Foundation recognizes Elmer G. Ellis, President/CEO, East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System, for exemplifying ETMC's mission of care to East Texas.

His personal dedication has resulted in an unmatched emergency/trauma network throughout the region and beyond, and ETMC Tyler's State of Texas designation as a Level I Trauma Center. This center is thereby dedicated in his honor and in recognition of the lives that will be saved within these hallowed walls."

In the 1990s, Mr. Ellis embarked on a mission to achieve Level I Trauma Center status, even though this is almost unheard of for a non-university medical center.  This goal was achieved in 1998, as the American College of Surgeons and the Texas Department of Health certified ETMC Tyler as the first and only Level I center serving the vast East Texas area.  The facility is re-surveyed on an ongoing basis to ensure that it maintains the stringent requirements involving facilities, staffing, procedures, research and outcome statistics.

"Studies show that having a Level I trauma center saves more lives, and in fact, survival rates have increased dramatically since we became the region's only Level I trauma center," said Bob Evans, administrator of ETMC Tyler.  "Mr. Ellis made this dream a reality by bringing together all of the clinical and capital resources necessary for this highest designation.  The American College of Surgeons has noted that his leadership and dedication have been instrumental to the success of this program."

According to the American College of Surgeons, a Level I facility is a regional resource trauma center that is a tertiary care facility central to the trauma care system.  This facility must have the capability of providing leadership and total care for every aspect of injury, from prevention through rehabilitation.  In addition to acute care responsibilities, Level I trauma centers have the major responsibility of providing leadership in education, research and system planning.  This responsibility extends to all hospitals caring for injured patients in their regions.

A Level I trauma facility must meet a long list of strict requirements, including:

  • Trauma surgeons on site 24 hours a day, not on call at home
  • Anesthesiologists on site 24 hours a day
  • State-of-the-art operating rooms reserved for trauma patients 24 hours a day
  • A dedicated trauma intensive care unit
  • A full-time research team to identify and track advances in trauma treatment
  • An aggressive quality improvement program to assure the ongoing use of the most effective treatment methods for patients
  • Meticulous tracking of outcome statistics through the trauma registry program
  • High training and certification requirements for every trauma team member
  • A fellowship program, which allows visiting physicians to shadow trauma experts to learn the most advanced treatment methods

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there are 17 Level I trauma centers in the state (including ETMC Tyler), primarily located in major metropolitan areas or military bases.

ETMC Tyler sees close to 50,000 emergency patient visits annually at its central emergency and trauma center each year, plus an additional 23,000 patient visits at the South Broadway emergency center.  As the hub of ETMC's regional trauma network, the facility works with ETMC EMS, ETMC Air 1 emergency helicopters, ETMC's trauma-designated hospitals across the region and a host of first responders in helping ensure that East Texans have emergency care when and where it is needed.

The ETMC Regional Healthcare System is a not-for-profit organization committed to improving the quality of life in communities throughout East Texas. For more information, please visit on the web at

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